A look at girls soccer 2021

This week’s Farragut-area girls soccer preview focuses on Hardin Valley Academy, Bearden, Christian Academy of Knoxville and Webb School of Knoxville.

In addition to Knoxville Catholic for part 2 of our previews next week, we are pursuing previews for Farragut and Concord Christian School.

HARDIN VALLEY — It’s no secret that the Hardin Valley Academy girls soccer team plays in the most competitive league in the state.

Many have called the new District 4-AAA “the district of death,” and fourth-year HVA head coach Jessie Stephens certainly wouldn’t disagree.

“There’s no doubt that our district is the most competitive in the state,” she said.

The Lady Hawks, which finished 2020 at 6-7-3 overall but unbeaten in district league play at 3-0-2, are loaded with experienced veterans, including 14 seniors. “We just don’t have a ton of depth,” Stephens said. “We have a strong upper class and this team has a good work rate.

“Any team that plays us is going to know that they’ve been in a game,” she added. “They are going to have to work because our girls are going to work hard.

“... But we have to stay healthy.”

The Lady Hawks return 2020 all-state standouts in Claire Palya and Norah Jacomen.

“She’s the best,” Stephens said of Palya, a senior midfielder, “You couldn’t ask for a better team captain and leader. She’s smart on the ball and she’s a great example for the underclassmen. We’re lucky to have her.”

Jacomen, a junior forward for the Lady Hawks, scored 10 goals and dished out 16 assists last season en route to being named the district’s Co-offensive Player of the Year.

Abigail Davis, junior midfielder and defender, another junior, joined Palya and Jacomen as all-district and all-Region 2-AAA honorees.

Junior goalkeeper Emma Cooke returns. “She’s a fantastic goalie and she’s going to be a huge help for us now that we’re in the district of death,” Stephens said.

Other key payers for HVA include: Madison Romain (senior, defender) and Reese Wilson (senior, defender).

BHS Lady Bulldogs

Bearden High School’s girls soccer team, which lost just two games in 2020, enter the 2021 campaign with experience — and they’re hungry.

“Last year, we made it to the state semifinals and we got a taste of success,” said Ryan Radcliffe, who has opened his eighth season as BHS’s head coach. “... We’re more deep this year. That could be good or that can be bad.

“It all comes down to how well these girls accept their roles on this team, whether they like them or they hate them,” he added.

Returning starters for the Lady Bulldogs are Peyton Huber (a junior goalkeeper and three-year starter); Alayna Corbitt (senior, defender); Harlie Howard (senior, defender); Kailyn Scott (senior, midfielder); Becca Roth (a junior midfielder, who earned all-state honors last season); Brinley Murphy (a junior forward and all-state performer last season); Jordan Hellman (senior, forward); and Marlee Biggs (senior, defender).

Other top returners are Mary Beth Sheringham (junior, defender); Liv Stott (sophomore, forward); and Sarah Altshuler (senior, midfielder).

Key newcomers include: Nyla Blue (a sophomore transfer who looks to see significant playing time in the midfield); Gabby Wilkerson (junior, forward); and Bree Mendoza (sophomore, forward).

CAK Lady Warriors

In his 13th season as Christian Academy of Knoxville’s head coach, Ried Estus said he expects the Lady Warriors “to make it back to the state tournament and make it back to the quarterfinals, but what happens after that just depends on where you land in the bracket.”

The Lady Warriors, who won the Division II-A East Region District 1 last season and made the State VIII round of the playoffs at 13-4-1, have a talented group of veterans and a solid crop of newcomers.

The bulk of CAK’s experience “is up top, and we have some talented players back in the midfield. We have five returning senior starters,” Estus said. “The big question for us is going to be whether or not we can keep the ball out of the back of our net. We lost some good defenders and a very good goalkeeper.”

CAK returns one of the area’s top midfielders in senior Lia Schreudder. She’s a three-time all-state performer and has been one of the team’s top scorers since her arrival on campus.

“Everything goes through Lia this year,” Estus said. “We’re going to lean on her for more goals this season.”

Other key players for CAK include: Kaya Hancock (senior, forward); Camryn Perkins (senior, defender); Ainsley Paterson (senior, midfielder); Kendal Forester (senior, midfielder); Elaina Nazerias (senior, midfielder); Finley Brandon (senior, defender); Zoe Tonkin (senior, defender); Campbell Ayres (sophomore, forward); Lyndsey Whitehorn (a freshman forward who played for the Warriors as an eighth grader in 2020); Lexi Asbury (sophomore, goalkeeper); Ava Curcio (a sophomore who will see time both in goal and in the field); McKenna Hubbard (junior, defender); and Anna Grace Presley (junior, defender)

Webb Lady Spartans

Of Webb School of Knoxville’s 24 players on the roster, “17 of them are freshmen and sophomores,” said Sonny Trotter, who is preparing to begin his eighth season as Webb’s head coach. “We have nine new players, so we have a lot of new faces that have come in from all over, and they’re pretty good soccer players.

“Our quickness will be our biggest strength,” he added. “Our numbers are also up.

“Our biggest area of concern ... is better ball handling and making sharper passes.”

As for intangibles, “These are great young people. If you bring the right attitude, the effort will follow,” Trotter said. “... But we have to stay healthy.”

Top veterans are McClain Cameron (senior midfielder who was an all-state performer last season); Lily Hirsh (senior, midfielder); Maddie Bell (senior, defender); Vivian Hall (senior, defender); and Heidi Sturm (senior, midfielder).

Other key players include Alex Holmes (sophomore, defender); Sydney Stinson (sophomore, defender); Daksha Sutharshan (sophomore, midfielder); Esha Sutharshan (sophomore, midfielder); Lauren Siler (sophomore, midfielder); Pearce Groer (freshman, forward); MacKenzie Ivy (sophomore, midfielder); and McKalie Ball (eighth-grade, forward).

Webb, which played just 12 matches last season (6-6 record), moves up to Division II-AA.

“Man, it doesn’t get tougher or more competitive than it is in our region,” Trotter said.